Predictions for 2013 in Food Politics

Genetically modified foods, food safety, and the soda tax are just a few of the hot topics

Fortune Teller

For my monthly (first Sunday) Food Matters column in the San Francisco Chronicle, I devote the one in January every year to predictions. Last year, I got them all pretty much on target. It didn't take much genius to figure out that election-year politics would bring things to a standstill. This year's column was much harder to do, not least because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was releasing blocked initiatives right up to the printing deadline.

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Q: I just looked at your 2012 crystal ball column. Your predictions were spot on. But what about 2013? Any possibility for good news in food politics?

A: Food issues are invariably controversial and anyone could see that nothing would get done about them during an election year. With the election over, the big question is whether and when the stalled actions will be released.

The Food and Drug Administration has already unblocked one pending decision. In December, it released the draft environmental assessment on genetically modified salmon — dated May 4, 2012. Here comes my first prediction:

The FDA will approve production of genetically modified salmon: Because these salmon are raised in Canada and Panama with safeguards against escape, the FDA finds they have no environmental impact on the United States. The decision is now open for public comment. Unless responses force the FDA to seek further delays, expect to see genetically modified salmon in production by the end of the year.

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To see what else is coming in 2013, read on in the slideshow.